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The objective of this study was to assess the antimicrobial efficacy of alcohol-based hand gels according to European Norm 1500 (EN 1500).We assessed the antimicrobial efficacy of 12 alcohol-based hand gels produced in Brazil, containing 70% w/w or v/v ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient, according to EN 1500, with a 30-s application. In addition, 70% w/w ethyl alcohol and three alcohol-based hand rubs commonly used in Europe and effective according to EN 1500 were also tested. Eight of 12 (67%) alcohol-based hand gels produced in Brazil failed by EN 1500. In contrast, 70% w/w ethyl alcohol and European alcohol-based hand rubs were approved by EN 1500.In this study, the majority of Brazilian alcohol-based hand gels showed limited efficacy on hand hygiene within 30 s.The findings of this study may be used as an important argument to motivate Brazilian manufacturers to improve the antimicrobial efficacy of alcohol-based hand gels, because it is prudent to suppose that alcohol-based hand gels can be recommended for use in healthcare settings only if they show antimicrobial activity at least similar to that of alcohol-based liquid preparations, including the traditional 70% w/w ethyl alcohol.